Central BJP mulls change in Goa leadership, mid-term elections
Story: KISHOR | NAIK | 23rd March 2018, 02:41 Hrs
Union Minister and senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari may have officially rejected the possibility of a leadership change in the State given Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s ill-health, but the party may be forced to explore two options if Parikar’s medical treatment continues for a prolonged period and he is unable to continues as chief minister.
Not only is the party’s central leadership considering candidates as a possible replacement to Parrikar, but it has also sent out a clear message to local leaders that if the provisional leadership is opposed by the alliance and political instability is created, the party should be ready for mid-term elections.
Parrikar is presently undergoing medical treatment in New York and Chief Minister’s Office has officially stated that Parrikar is responding well to the treatment. There are expectations that the chief minister would return to Goa within the next two months and resume work with the same vigour.
Medical experts, however, differ from politicians and have expressed doubts that Parrikar would be in a position to recover within two months and resume work.
“Even if the chief minister returns to India after treatment, it would be impossible for him to resume office immediately as he will need rest, given his ailment,” justified a medical expert.
According to party sources, the central leadership is well aware of the situation and has begun the process of identifying candidates who could replace Parrikar.
Dr Pramod Sawant’s name emerges as provisional leader
Highly placed sources told The Goan that the first round of identifying leaders to lead the government in the absence of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has already begun within the party leadership.
“Initially, there was a plan to bring in PWD Minister Sudin Dhavalikar and the MGP into the BJP party and give him the leadership. However, MGP’s central committee is opposed to any merger of MGP with BJP,” said the source.
“Dhavalikar was then left with the option of quitting the MGP and joining the BJP, but many leaders objected to this option. Local BJP leaders conveyed to the central leadership that they would accept Dhavlikar’s leadership only if the MGP merged with BJP,” the source added.
As a suitable option to Sudin Dhavalikar, Speaker and Sakhali MLA Dr Pramod Sawant has been put forward from the current list of BJP MLAs and is currently top on the list as a possible replacement for Parrikar.
If replacement leader not acceptable to allies,
BJP may opt for polls to checkmate Congress
The BJP’s central leadership is also aware that a replacement leader could be unacceptable to the coalition partners or political instability could be created.
Mindful to this possibility, the party’s central leadership is considering mid-term elections as the other option.
“If Parrikar resigns as chief minister, some MLAs have indicated their willingness to resign and Calangute MLA and Deputy Speaker Micheal Lobo has clearly suggested this possibility. In fact, Lobo said he along with other MLAs were also willing to resign,” said the source.
“In fact, Lobo had raised the leadership issue with Gadkari during his interaction with the BJP MLAs.”
Most leaders and office bearers have insisted that the government should be under the control of the BJP, being the largest party in the coalition government.
BJP’s central leadership is also open to the idea of mid-term polls to prevent the Congress from making attempts to form the government by wooing the regional parties and independent MLAs.
The central leadership would be keenly awaiting feedback on these political developments from BJP Goa In-charge Avinash Rai Khanna, who returned to New Delhi on Thursday morning.
“In mid-April, BJP’s newly-elected organising secretary Vijay Puranik will take charge and he will review developments after coming to Goa,” sources told The Goan.